The Bois Brule River in northern Wisconsin, just east of Duluth, MN, is one of the premier fly fishing rivers in the upper midwest. Known for resident brook, brown, and rainbow trout the river will also see runs of lake brown trout and steelhead as well as coho and chinook salmon. I was lucky enough to wrangle an invitation to fish the Brule last week, and what a beautiful river to fish.
In search of steelhead running up the river we donned our waders, grabbed our packs and rods, and fished several different spots throughout the day. Our starting point was well upstream away from the big lake, we were just south of Box Car Hole and had the river to ourselves as we worked it hard for a couple of hours. At the present time the water is low and crystal clear, making it tough to fool a fish with even the most alluring fly.
Next it was on to Big Tree Hole and then downstream to what we call Big Rock Hole, where just weeks earlier we spotted a big fish heading upstream. Here we ran into quite a few other fisherman, and one young angler who managed to hook into a 26-inch brown trout. Further on down the river we ran into a fly fisherman who spent a good amount of time trying to convince my fishing partner to ditch his spinning rig for a fly fishing rig like his. Unfortunately, neither set up brought in anything to capture in a photo.
The afternoon took us to the mouth of the river and a beautiful sand beach on the south shore of Lake Superior. For the next few hours we were casting, wading and moving upstream looking for fish. Along the way we encountered very few fisherman and some really spectacular scenery. The setting sun forced us to put the fishing rods away and quench our thirst, but I have taken the pledge to return and chase the steelhead in the very near future.
Many thanks to my guide who owns a cabin on the river. We will get them again next time. Maybe by canoe?
Get out on the water! There is a lot of great fishing to be had before winter arrives.
The Brule is #1 in my book for a reason: the Bois Brule River in Northern Wisconsin has everything. Quiet-water, riffles, beautiful wild scenery, rapids, whitewater, and world class fishing. Here is a map of the major sections.
There are three major “sections” of the Bois Brule River. The first section from County Road S to Highway 2 is a very popular day trip with canoe outfitters in the area to assist you with rentals and shuttle rides. It is an easier section with mostly quiet water and a few riffles and rapids. Make sure before doing any of these sections to call for water levels: 715-372-4866. The great thing about this river is thanks to the many wetlands in the area the water level is generally always adequate for paddling.
(Did you know that this river is also called the River of Presidents? 5 US Presidents have stayed and fished on the Bois Brule: Grant, Hoover, Eisenhower, Cleveland and Coolidge)
The second section starts at Highway 2 and ends at Highway 13. The beginning of this section is picturesque and relatively calm, after Pine Tree Landing there are a few challenging rapids and two famous ledges, Lenroot and May’s.
About half way through this stretch is the Copper Range Campground and Landing. A great place to camp and fish or just have a picnic lunch. ( There are great fishing spots along this river so be on the lookout after every turn for fishermen and give them plenty of room)
The final section is from Highway 13 to Lake Superior. This section has easy rapids but slows down and widens the closer you get to Lake Superior. It was very ominous the last time we did this section. There was a storm rolling across Lake Superior with black clouds fast approaching. We paddled hard and pulled out in time to watch the storm from our car. This stretch is not as popular as the others, but to paddle out directly into Lake Superior is experience onto its own.
Please share your comments with us about the Bois Brule River, I’m sure many out there have paddled it enough to know every twist and turn.